When you visit Louisiana it’s inevitable that you will be sampling a myriad of delicious cuisine while perhaps stumbling across one or unique situations that would only happen in this state. The iconic city of New Orleans is so very different to any other city across the United States and typifies much of the culture and inherent beauty of the state of Louisiana.
It goes without saying that anyone visiting Louisiana will likely have NOLA at the top of their bucket list but we want to introduce a variety of other reasons why you should want to visit the Pelican State. We are delighted to introduce a Louisiana native, Nancie Clark from Aperture Of My Soul, who shares her top reasons for visiting this beautiful southern state.
Living in Louisiana for the past 12 years has given Nancie some great insights to the South, though she is still considered a ‘Northerner’ to her Louisiana friends. There have been times that she has felt culturally uneducated but over the years, she has come to appreciate the rich cultural heritage that is reflected throughout Louisiana. Let’s take a look at why she recommends everyone should head south sooner rather than later.
Louisiana’s history is filled with controversial practices. Sugar and cotton plantations were abundant with the majority of the labor being done by slaves. Today, we view slave labor as inhumane. The architectural styles of the plantations vary equally as much as their sizes.
My idea that all plantations are large properties is a misconception. Passed down through the generations, some properties have hundreds of acres, while others only have a limited number of acres remaining of the original land.
Visiting plantations, like the famous Oak Alley Plantation, allows you to appreciate the beauty of the plantation and pay respect to those lives that were the foundation, albeit not of their free will, of Louisiana.
I have to admit, my favorite aspect of Louisiana is the swamps. Mysterious, beautiful and wild, the swamps of Louisiana are filled with diverse plant and animal life. There are an abundant number of swamp tours available throughout southern Louisiana. Cypress trees filled with hanging Spanish moss bring out the romanticism of the swamp. With the sharp contrasting danger of alligators sunbathing on a log.
I have taken numerous swamp tours and each one has its own flavor. Riding through the swamps you will see the camps (homes) along the swamp banks and realize that nature and Louisiana culture are closely intertwined.
Parades and Festivals
Who doesn’t know that Mardi Gras rocks in Louisiana? Beginning Jan 6th on King’s Day, Mardi Gras runs through Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Parades, large and small, fill the weekends and some weekdays throughout Mardi Gras. Every year, the Krewes crown Kings and Queens of their parade. Be prepared to yell “Throw me sumthing Mister” in your best ‘Nawlins’ twang. You’re guaranteed to go home with some Mardi Gras beads.
Louisiana is a festival wonderland. Crawfish festival, Boudin (a type of sausage) festival and Jambalaya festival are just a few. You can’t have a festival without some amazing cajun/zydeco music and dancing. Louisianians love to dance! I’ve grown to love zydeco music but have yet to kick up my heels in a Cajun 2-step.
Food in Louisiana is known to be spicy. Tabasco and Tony Chachere’s are like salt and pepper on the table.
Cajun and Creole are often used to describe Louisiana’s native food. Similar in their flavors, Creole is known as “city food” and Cajun as “country food.” For seafood lovers, dishes like shrimp etouffee, charbroiled oysters, crab au gratin never end. Crawfish boils fill the spring months.
Po-boys are another Louisiana favorite. You can enjoy every kind of Po-boy imaginable, including a french fry and brown gravy Po-boy! Yum! On the sweet side, you can’t leave Louisiana without tasting the tempting beignets. Streaks of powdered sugar down the front of your shirt is like your rite of passage as an honorary Louisianan.
No one can visit Louisiana without spending time in New Orleans. An iconic symbol of fun and carefree living, your experiences in New Orleans are only limited by what your time and wallet allow. Walking through the French Quarter during the day, the history of New Orleans is revealed. Royal Street is the quieter art center of the French Quarter. Street artists fill the sidewalks, each with their special style of art for sale.
But when the sun goes down, a different French Quarter awakens. On Bourbon Street, music fills the air and the alcohol and people flow freely. For more music and food, Frenchman’s Street is where the locals hang out.
A trolley ride down St Charles Avenue, reveals a very different side to New Orleans. Beautiful mansions and oak trees are full of southern charm. City Park is the 7th most visited urban public park in the United States. Home to the Art museum, Storyville children’s park, Botanical gardens and many more activities, you can spend a day exploring.
A visit to New Orleans is not complete without a visit to St Louis Cemetery No. 1. Established in the 1700’s, it is the oldest existing cemetery in New Orleans. Other cemeteries like Lafayatte in the Garden District are equally as interesting to stroll around.
Visit Louisiana – Our Thoughts
We fall in love with New Orleans a little more each time we visit! Living in Arkansas, we are a relatively short drive away from a variety of delicious cuisine options that capture our imagination every time we head there.
Whether you want to sample some of the finest oysters from Acme Oyster House or prefer a po’boy from Mother’s, there is a little bit of everything in NOLA.
We loved taking different walking tours around the various districts in New Orleans. A French Quarter walking tour will introduce you to the Napoleonic history here along with the trade industry that once thrived around Jackson Square.
Alternatively, head over to the luxury side of New Orleans and take the Garden District Tour, where the likes of Sandra Bullock and John Goodman reside. It’s also the area where the house in the Benjamin Button movie was filmed. This is also an interesting spot to check out one of the infamous cemeteries (Lafayette) that Nancie mentioned.
I could spend all day sharing our favorite restaurants around New Orleans but be sure to check out our post on Where to Eat in New Orleans for a few of our top recommendations.
Although the focus of this post has primarily been about New Orleans and some of the surrounding neighborhoods, it’s inevitable that anyone interested in visiting Louisiana will be introduced to an incredibly unique experience. The cuisine is something else and although it may not have the aesthetic appeal that makes you want to dive in (though many would argue with this), I strongly encourage you to give it a try!
Thanks to Nancie for sharing their thoughts on why you should visit Louisiana. In addition to her website highlighted above, you can also follow Nancie on her travels via her social media networks:
Have you visited Louisiana before? Does the allure of New Orleans cuisine and French inspired architecture appeal? What are your top things to do in NOLA?